A MAN and a woman who had hoped to save horses from the knackery have been convicted of animal cruelty charges over the treatment of six animals.
Julie Anne Redden, 52, and Brett Cameron Hughes, 57, were due to face a hearing in Singleton Local Court on Thursday but pleaded guilty to four counts of animal cruelty relating to a failure to provide proper and sufficient food to six animals.
Agreed facts show RSPCA inspectors attended the Ellalong property in October last year after receiving reports about the state of the horses.
Six horses of the 27 on the property were seized on a second visit three days later.
During a recorded interview, Ms Redden and Mr Hughes said that they were rescue horses that they did not want to see euthanised.
Mr Hughes explained their poor condition by saying “I didn’t have any rain, ‘cause mother nature didn’t let the grass grow.”
“I didn’t have any rain, ‘cause mother nature didn’t let the grass grow.”Brett Cameron Hughes
He said he last saw the horses a fortnight before authorities took them.
A veterinary report on the seized animals found the horses had not had access to proper and sufficient food for four weeks, while a Local Land Services veterinarian gave evidence that the property was overstocked.
The lack of food left the animals in emaciated condition, and they did not receive veterinary treatment for conditions including dental disease, dermatitis and a proud flesh injury on one of the horses.
Ms Redden and Mr Hughes both received 18-month good behaviour bonds. They will be required to take advice from Hunter Local Land Services to stock any of their land supporting livestock and must pay vet and boarding costs totalling $30,451.51.
Custody of the six horses was given to RSPCA NSW.
“All too often we see people with good intentions take on too many horses, underestimating their needs and how expensive they are, and so we see animals suffering as a result – which is never an acceptable outcome,” RSPCA deputy chief inspector Scott Meyers said.
“If someone doesn’t have the resources to look after the number of horses they’ve taken on, they need to look at alternative arrangements like re-homing or surrender to make sure that animals don’t suffer.”
The horses have made full recoveries and will be made available for adoption in the coming days, the RSPCA said in a statement.